Thirteen-year-old Bensonhurst student wins prestigious essay award

A Bensonhurst student has a bright future and already has the awards to prove it.

Thirteen-year-old Rieko Luo, an eighth grade student at I.S. 187, The Christa McAuliffe School, 1171 65th Street, used her love for writing and technology to bring home second place honors in the SIFMA Foundation’s nationwide InvestWrite Essay Competition.

The program challenges thousands of students across the country to consider an investment scenario and make recommendations that incorporate short and long-term investment goals.

According to SIFMA, InvestWrite serves as a culminating activity for 600,000 fourth to 12th graders who compete each year in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game, an online simulation of the global capital markets that reinforces STEM learning, 21st century skills, economics, investing and personal finance.

Since InvestWrite’s inception in 2004, over 200,000 students have submitted essays. Luo is among 20,000 students this school year participating in the InvestWrite challenge, which bridges classroom learning in mathematics, social studies and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for long-term personal financial planning.

“I had to select the stock or bond of a company that uses augmented reality and virtual reality technology,” Luo explained. “It took me several months to write this out but I started with a passion for creative writing. I find technology very interesting because it’s really futuristic and when I put them together, I felt it was a great project for young students, especially those who want to showcase their writing talents.”

SIFMA was impressed with her determination and superb writing. “Rieko Luo’s innovative investment analysis of companies utilizing augmented and virtual reality earned her the SIFMA Foundation’s ‘InvestWrite Genius’ title this year,” said Melanie Mortimer, president of the SIFMA Foundation in a statement. “We commend Rieko and her teacher, Yuliya Mikhels, for this achievement. Helping students better understand our economy, our markets, the role of investors and how to make good investments will pay dividends for the students, their education and the economy.”

Despite the accolades, it wasn’t always easy for Luo. “It was actually very complicated to do this essay,” she said. “The topic I used was Microsoft HoloLens which was relatively new to this year and it was hard to find accurate information about it. You have to do intense research and it took me several weeks just to do that.”

Once she received the award, it was a huge thrill for the Bensonhurst resident. “I didn’t believe it at first, but when it sunk in, I was ecstatic, and then I thought it would be a great example to set for young students, especially my little brother,” said Luo, who hopes to be an inspiration for others. “It’s never too young to start to try to be a role model. My advice for younger students would be that those who give it their all ultimately achieve success. Try hard and don’t stop pushing, you’ll reach something, even if it’s not your top goal. It’s something you earned off your hard work.”

Luo’s family is a major inspiration in her life. “When my parents found out, they were very surprised but they already knew by them I’d be able to reach my goals if I tried my best,” she said. “They started from nothing as immigrants from China but they worked extremely hard to get us where we are. My sisters are a big inspiration too because they’re the first ones to go to college in my whole family and it’s a big deal. I want to live up to the expectations I have for myself.”

She also credits her business teacher. “She motivated me to do really well in this and I wanted to bring a lot of pride to everybody, but what really pushed me was my passion for writing,” Luo said. “I wanted to build on it and have something for high schools to look at.”

Despite her writing skill, she has different career ambitions. “I actually want to be a dermatologist because I was born with a skin disease and it really did impact me and I think helping people that have to deal with the same hardships that I did would be great,” said Luo.

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